Anton Chekhov's The Duel

Anton Chekhov's The Duel

2010, NR, 95 min. Directed by Dover Kosashvili. Starring Andrew Scott, Fiona Glascott, Tobias Menzies, Niall Buggy, Nicholas Rowe, Michelle Fairley, Simon Trinder, Debbie Chazen.

REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., Sept. 10, 2010

“If you are afraid of loneliness, do not marry,” Chekhov once wrote. Laevsky (Scott) isn’t married, but his situation is even worse than that. In a romantic fever, he ran off to the Caucasus with a married woman, Nadia (Glascott). Two years later, they live together openly, but the love is long gone. Laevsky isn’t legally bound to Nadia, but he is morally, at least according to the small but exacting society they keep in this seaside resort on the outer bounds of Russia. Drinking, sunning, shopping, and swimming: On the surface, the only difference in their days is in the exact ratio of one banal activity to another – oh, but what wild, ragged emotions lay beneath. Kosashvili, the director of the superlative Israeli family drama Late Marriage, delivers an even-handed portrait of discontents in The Duel, parsing feelings of affinity for the unpredictable and dissipated Laevsky; his sad, calculating mistress, whose position is untenable; and another townsman, Menzies’ upright zoologist Von Koren, who defends Nadia’s honor – not for the sake of Nadia, who frankly disgusts him, but as a kind of holy crusade against what he sees as the rising tide of degeneracy. The Duel is a compassionate picture – lovely to look at, too (Atom Egoyan regular Paul Sarossy shot it on location in Croatia) – but it never achieves any real immediacy, or urgency, even with the title’s pistol-waving. Just as marriage does not banish aloneness, proximity to the characters onscreen doesn’t unlock any special connection to them. Late in the film, Nadia weeps about her unhappiness to an unsympathetic ear. “I am miserable, too,” he responds, “but what of it?” I share his shrug.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Dover Kosashvili Films
Late Marriage
For the staunchly traditional Israeli family at the center of this excellent realist drama, matrimony is a curious process. It's brokered like a business deal, ...

Marrit Ingman, Aug. 23, 2002

More by Kimberley Jones
We Have an Issue: To the Ballot Box We Go (Again!)
We Have an Issue: To the Ballot Box We Go (Again!)
Voters mull Proposition A’s progressive policies on low-level pot possession and no-knock warrants

April 29, 2022

Bizarre not-quite-a-biopic of Céline Dion

April 22, 2022


Anton Chekhov's The Duel, Dover Kosashvili, Andrew Scott, Fiona Glascott, Tobias Menzies, Niall Buggy, Nicholas Rowe, Michelle Fairley, Simon Trinder, Debbie Chazen

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle